26 October, 2020

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Sumanthiran, Half-Truths, And Alternatives

By S. I. Keethaponcalan

Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan

Last week, the de facto leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), M.A. Sumanthiran, gave an interview to a Sinhala program called, Truth With Chamuditha. Chamuditha Samarawickrama conducted the discussion. In this interview, Sumanthiran made several controversial comments, some of which could amount to half-truths. Sumanthiran said he never accepted Prabakaran’s “political or armed project,” and he had “no connection with the Tiger diaspora.” It is interesting that Sumanthiran, the main Tamil political party’s de facto leader, did not even approve the LTTE’s “political project.”

It is not uncommon for Tamil politicians to say something in Jaffna and totally another in Colombo. More often than not, statements in the North are nationalistic and inflammatory.  However, this time around, Sumanthiran’s assertions were entirely out of the Tamil mainstream. Hence, last week, Sumanthiran faced widespread condemnation from Tamil political and civil society groups, including some of the prominent TNA leaders. His effigies showed up with garland of sandals, an ultimate insult. 

It was against this backdrop, a videotaped public speech of Sumanthiran, presumably made before the dissolution of Parliament started to do the rounds on Facebook. In one of the videos, an angry Sumanthiran challenged his distractors to provide an alternative if they think what the TNA is doing now is wrong. He was like, tell us what the alternative is. This is probably a common theme for Sumanthiran these days. 

Therefore, I decided to give him alternatives. The alternative is not to extend unconditional support to the incumbent government, any government. Another alternative is to develop some courage to bargain with governments to protect and promote the wellbeing of the community they represent. Perhaps another alternative is to operate as an opposition party when you are in the opposition, rather than behave like a proxy.  

2015 was a challenging year. From 2009 to 2015, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa government’s policies pushed the Tamil people to the brink of deprivation. They wanted a change, and the 2015 presidential election offered an opportunity to make a change. Hence, the TNA offered unconditional support to United National Party (UNP) candidate Maithripala Sirisena. The Tamils wanted a change, but at the same time, Sirisena could not have won without the Tamil votes. The situation was ideal for a win-win outcome. Yet, the TNA did not insist on anything in return for making a president. It did not have the confidence to bargain. Therefore, the 2015 election ended up as a win-win for President Sirisena (and Sirisena alone). 

The TNA saved the UNP from collapsing at least twice. The first no-confidence motion against the government was introduced in April 2018, and the second one was brought forward in response to the Easter Sunday (ISIS) attack. On both occasions, the TNA voted in favor of the UNP government. It is imperative to note that when the TNA voted for the UNP in April, it was the main official opposition party. 

What did the TNA get for the Tamil people for helping the government to extend its tenure in office? To the best of my knowledge, nothing was gained in return. I find it difficult to imagine an opposition party supporting a government without anything in return. The TNA supporting the UNP government in critical times without any political concessions led to the “rumor” within the Tamil community that many TNA members were bought by the government for hefty sums. 

The 2019 presidential election was a tragicomedy. The TNA, along with other Tamil parties, presented a 13-point program as a precondition for its support. Whoever accepts the proposal would get Tamil votes. The proposal included such demands as recognition of the right to self-determination and the introduction of a federal structure.

No one expected candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa to accept the TNA conditions. Under pressure from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to reveal his stance on the Tamil proposal, candidate Sajith Premadasa also rejected it. Yet, the TNA went ahead and endorsed Premadasa, again without any preconditions. The TNA should have anticipated rejection of its demands by major southern parties, especially in an election year. The party should have thought about a backup plan if and when the proposals are rejected. 

There is no evidence to suggest that the TNA was thinking about these issues. Hence, when the UNP candidate dismissed the proposal as unacceptable, the TNA simply surrendered. Following the decision to support Premadasa, Sumanthiran claimed that the 13-point proposal was not presented to any of the candidates, a half-truth.  

In a democracy, political parties have a responsibility to work toward the betterment of the community they represent. The TNA has a responsibility to protect and promote the Tamil people’s interests without undermining the wellbeing of other communities and national interest. The criticism against the TNA is on the rise, mainly due to the party’s inability to deliver. The self-interest of the TNA parliamentarians seems to supersede community interest. The TNA and Southern parties must remember that it was the failure of the TULF to deliver that pushed Tamil youth into militancy in the 1970s.                    

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Latest comments

  • 16
    4

    “The TNA and Southern parties must remember that it was the failure of the TULF to deliver that pushed Tamil youth into militancy in the 1970s. “
    This rather woolly.
    Failure to to deliver WHAT?
    Was not the TULF’s pledge to liberate ‘Tamil Eelam’?
    *
    The TULF was formed in 1976, but the militancy started some years earlier and got rough after 1983.
    *
    “Sumanthiran said he never accepted Prabakaran’s “political or armed project,” and he had “no connection with the Tiger diaspora.” It is interesting that Sumanthiran, the main Tamil political party’s de facto leader, did not even approve the LTTE’s “political project.””
    Sumanthiran’s claim can be truthful as he was appointed as the TNA’s National List MP following the 2010 parliamentary election.

    • 11
      16

      When you go for an interview, you must first study the person who is interviewing, about how he had conducted interviews in the past. Secondly you must prepare yourself with likely questions he would put to you and have all details at your finger tips. Sadly Sumanthiran has failed miserably not in this alone but in several of them giving the upper hand to others thereby letting Tamils down. Just saying that the interviewer is harsh and intimidating is not acceptable. Those who saw Tim Sebastian conducting hard talk will know how tough he was and did not tolerate evasive answers. Chandrika once appeared in it and came a cropper as she was not suitable for such interview. At present Al Jazeera is conducting similar program by Mehdi Hassan who is intimidatory with raised voice, which is a psychological method in cowing down the opponent. If you want to get over an opponent you have to raise your pitch to meet him, and if you cannot you will be the loser. This is exactly what Chamuditha is adopting to intimidate others. Instead of confronting him with upright answers, Sumanthiran is trying to run down Tamil youths who took to arms to promote himself to be darling of Sinhalese and has disgraced himself. If Sumanthiran wants to give his personal views, he must resign his position.

      • 9
        8

        The little lads who took up arms killed civilians, mostly members of their own community. They tortured those suspected of disloyalty or difference in opinion.
        That is not liberation.
        Someone has to talk about these things.

    • 10
      1

      I just listened to the interview. To me, the interviewer continuing the “federalism = separation” mantra is the noteworthy part of it. That makes it look like a solution to the Tamil people is nowhere close.

      Sumanthiran’s claims, though it could be truthful from his viewpoint, could lead to people in the North East questioning how he could lead the TNA. Maybe he should take a different role as ‘legal adviser’ and work behind the scenes to help with a solution, and allow someone else to take up the mantle of leadership.

      • 5
        1

        Agnos
        Good to hear from you.
        The TNA has a problem with finding a person who can lead it.
        I agree that Sumanthiran will not be acceptable to many.
        Can you think of a person in the TNA who can articulate the views of the FP and TNA?
        The reason why Sampanthan is still leader is not because he is the right leader. The same can be said about Sumanthiran being the spokesperson.
        The FP has severely deteriorated as a party since its genuine peak in 1956. (The TULF success 1977 was the outcome of the biggest confidence trick the FP played on the Tamil public.)
        It has too many individuals who whip up sentiment including regionalism and play the religious card when it is convenient.
        *
        Do not rule out Sumanthiran becoming de facto leader by default.

      • 7
        1

        Agnos, Sumanthiran is not leadership material. He rose up due to the backing he received from Hon. Sampanthan. Once Hon. Sampanthan departs there may not be a TNA for him to lead.

        • 6
          5

          You are correct. Leader has to lead from the front and not to let others do the job and for him to take the glory. I have studied Sumanthiran and I have found that he will never get into a situation which will result him falling foul of the law. He will let people to do the dirty work and if the goings are favourable step in to take glory while if the goings are bad, will slowly vanish from the scene. Did leaders like Gandhi, Mandela or King behave like cowards.

  • 17
    8

    …. The party should have thought about a backup plan if and when the proposals are rejected.
    …. The criticism against the TNA is on the rise, mainly due to the party’s inability to deliver.
    …. it was the failure of the TULF to deliver that pushed Tamil youth into militancy.
    ______________________
    S. I. Keethaponcalan, TNA has to deal with unyielding Sinhalese politicians the entire time. Armchair critiquing is absolute rubbish.

  • 20
    2

    Dr. Keerthipongalan,
    I agree with your thoughts and analysis. Buddhist Sinhala Nationalism do not respect the minorities as Srilankan citizens. Both UNP and SLFP (now SLPP) are two competitive Political parties but both are Sinhala Buddhist Nationalistic in common. So, none of them are in favour of devolution of power for regions, particularly to the North East in which they are minorities. The politics of Federal party or Congress party both represented Tamils tried in various ways showing their support to both UNP and SLFP and agreements in the past but later the agreements were torn apart by the same once their political agenda was over. The armed struggle was started with the inducement of Tamil political leadership, support of the Indian government (they had their political agenda) and emergence of LTTE as a sole representative of Tamils was accepted by majority of Tamils. Even the governments of Srilanka have to come to a level accept the political demands of the LTTE. Srilanka-India accord also one of the product through LTTE armed struggle. Yes, LTTE was military organisation and killed some political and military opponents but overall LTTE’s political agenda had the support of the Tamil people. Some people argue that lTTE should have agreed to Chandrika’s proposals, 13th amendment etc. but what happened to the promises Mahinda made during the end of war. The truth is Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism never ever agree for any devolution in a peaceful manner. You cannot truth their words. It is lessons for Tamils and Muslims. They will use it only to complete their agenda. Even now, Mahinda might release one or two Tamil prisoners but that will not solve the Tamil problem.

    • 19
      4

      I was born in Colombo, studied with Sinhalese and lived among Sinhalese, witnessed three major riots unleashed against Tamils by the government, and I will state boldly that except handful of Sinhalese, rest are not willing to grant anything tangible to Tamils. Sinhalese want Tamils for socializing only and not to enjoy the same political rights they have. The moment you raise that matter, you become their enemy. Any one living in Colombo among Sinhalese whether Sumanthiran or Ponnambalam cannot seriously fight for Justice to Tamils. Recently in e-mail exchange with my classmates at Royal, I told them please develop north with mega projects, and allow Jaffna man to prosper. For that one person wrote, we do not want white elephants in Jaffna. Another person wrote, we do not want another Hong Kong. This is the thinking of Sinhalese. If any Tamil politician says that rights of Tamils can be achieved by co-operating with government, he is cheating. Despite supporting UNP regime during past five years, Tamils got only crumbs. Unless by foreign intervention, Tamils will never get justice.

      • 11
        7

        Friendship is mutual. One gets as much as one gives. At times far more.
        I did not know a word of Sinhala when I moved to Colombo, nearly all the Sinhalese I got to know were warm and friendly, far more than a number Tamils I would rather avoid naming.

        • 4
          0

          You are touching on a very good point (Gnana and SJ): The difference between personal friendship and what one is willing to vote for, politically. Why the former has not helped us advance on the latter, and — more important and something for us to celebrate — the other way round, why the latter has not really hindered the former. Perhaps philosopher “Plato” here should help resolve this.
          Come on Plato, what do you say?

          • 5
            5

            SAV
            There is a lot of anti-Sinhalese (and anti-Muslim) venom on these pages from Tamil contributors. It borders on racial hatred. I only do my bit to put some things right.
            As for politics, narrow nationalism of one kind breed narrow nationalism of another kind.
            It takes a bit of tolerance and ability to see things from another’s point of view that we need now to discuss matters soberly.
            *
            As you say ethno-political hostility has not hurt personal good relations very much. That speaks a lot for this country.

      • 5
        1

        “If any Tamil politician says that rights of Tamils can be achieved by co-operating with government, he is cheating.”
        If any Sinhala politician promises that rights of Tamils can be achieved by voting for them , he is cheating. 

        Soma

        • 7
          0

          Soma

          You are damn right man.
          If any Politician including the CRIMINAL Gotha says to you lot that he can brush off India he is Cheating. For your Information just look at the evidence .

          1) India can do anything she wants in Sei Lanka and Gotha himself has admitted this. when he said that he was given a warning by India.
          2) IPKF was the only foreign Army to set foot on Sri Lanka.
          3) During the Cheguvera trouble Indian Army arrived without invitation.
          4) 13th Amendment ( dont mistake that with the 19th which is for 19th Century people like you and we are in the 21st) is Indias baby and all Modi talked about when Gotha and MR went see him was 13th Amendment.
          5) India is the only country which has a Consul General in Jaffna Mr.Balachandran and Indian Independance is Celebrated in Jaffna.
          6) India booted the Cheenavedi

          I can go on but it will make you more angry. WAKE up buddy from COMA

          • 1
            0

            Mr kali
            Don’t worry, nothing will make me angry. Look how I am insulted, vilified here on CT. (:see Native Veddah’s comments on this page) Have I ever returned in kind? All I am trying is to expose the hypocrisy of Tamil racist donkeys in the most polite language constrained by my severely limited proficiency of English language.

            Soma

      • 1
        6

        Gr Gnana
        “…rest are not willing to grant anything tangible to Tamils.”
        Because you didn’t propose anything ‘tangible’ and you didn’t tell them that you are going back to Jaffna they would have taken you to be a hypocrite.

        Soma

        • 3
          0

          Soma I have proposed the solution which is fair to all and win-win for all.
          1. Nature of the state – Sinhalese are not prepared to let go unitary status where they are holders of power. Tamils want to rule themselves without Sinhala interference.
          There are few options to achieve compromise of unitary/federal :
          a) Do not call the state unitary or federal and devolve power. eg UK where there is no constitution but in all purpose function like a unitary state. But they have devolved power extensively to Scotland which is federal in character.
          b) Let the state be quasi-federal with power to peripheries. eg India. Difference is, it was conceded voluntarily India, unlike reluctantly in Sri Lanka.
          c) Let the state be unitary but devolve power in a federal manner with provisions in the constitution which prevents interference of the center.
          2. Unit of devolution – Tamils want north-east merger while Sinhalese and Muslims are opposing it. If merger is injustice to Sinhalese and Muslims, non merger is injustice to Tamils. Therefore balance has to be struck. Moreover one cannot say that Sri Lanka should remain undivided, but Tamils should remain divided. Way to achieve is to redraw the boundaries of provinces and effect the merger.
          3. Extent of devolution – Tamils must have same rights and privileges enjoyed by Sinhalese, nothing more and nothing less. This is the only way to ensure equality. Effective self rule can only achieved through a Legislature controlled by Tamils and not a second chamber which will be another Sinhala controlled one. (CONTD)

          • 0
            0

            Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam 
            Thanks.
            Now to begin with, in respect of a political solution what is your definition of Tamil Nation?
            You must have observed that I never leave any ambiguity on that. Whenever I use the word Tamils I ALWAYS mention in parentheses “All Tamil speaking people scattered across the country irrespective of their religion, caste or the date of arrival.”
            You may acknowledge that this is fundamentally important in order to move forward the discussion.
            We can then proceed with the statistical numbers of their distribution and what percentage of them are benefited in implementing a particular devolution model.
            I am looking for a solution where at least 90% of them (as defined above) are benefited.

            Soma

      • 3
        5

        Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,
        “Tamils got only crumbs.”

        Native Sinhalayo had to eat crumbs during colonial rule because for them Sinhalayo were the enemy who wanted to kick them out. Situation got really worse during British rule who used the descendants of Malabar slaves brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese to work in tobacco plantations to oppress Sinhalayo. This is not the fault of Demalu but the infamous wicked ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of Brits. Wella Ala Demalu just took advantage out of the situation created by the Brits.
        After Wella Ala Demalu got the opportunity to get into the Government service in massive numbers, they became ‘Kalu Suddas’ and discriminated and oppressed Sinhalayo. During that time, Sinhalayo got ‘ONLY CRUMS’ while Wella Ala Demalu were enjoying Bread and Butter.
        At the time British left in 1948, Wella Ala Demalu were dominating Administrative, Medical, Engineering, Agriculture, Irrigation fields. In reality, majority Sinhala Buddhists did not get Independence in 1948. Wella Ala Demalu and Sinhala Chris teean ‘Kalu Suddas’ replaced ‘Para’ Suddas and started ruling the country. Whenever, Sinhala Buddhists as the majority tried to bring changes Sinhala ‘Kalu Suddas’ resisted and Wella Ala Demalu screamed saying that they are been discriminated.

        • 2
          1

          Native Chingkallams? What is native about Chingkallams? Most of them , and this includes you are descended from low caste Thamizh imports from South India. Most Chingkallams are native to the slums and low caste villages of Thamizh Nadu and Cheralam ( Kerala) . This includes you and many others who beat the anti Thamizh drum. So called native Chingkallams have always been ruled by other natives again from Thamizh Nadu of the high caste variety. Native Chingkallam indeed. A language that is 40% Thamizh based in vocabulary , and everything else 100% copied from Thamizh.

          • 0
            2

            But mr Pandi Kutti Sampanthan aiya insists that ‘Tamils must be considered a distinct ethnic entity ‘. ( His words).

            Soma

      • 2
        4

        Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,
        Can you please tell us why the descendants of Dravida slaves brought by Portuguese to work in tobacco plantations in Yapanaya are called ‘SRI LANKAN TAMILS; and
        Descendants of Dravida slaves brought by British to work in tea plantations are called ‘INDIAN TAMILS’.

        Why make a distinction when all the Tamils who live in Sri Lanka have their origin in India.

        • 3
          0

          Mahindapala, same way descendants of Dravida slaves brought by Portuguese to work in cinnamon plantations are called Sinhala Salagama and descendants of Dravida slaves brought by Portuguese for fishing are called Sinhala Karawa. You are a hybrid of Malayalam slave brought by British to work in coconut plantation and Javanese slave brought by British to work in rubber plantation.

      • 1
        1

        your comment “Unless by foreign intervention”,Do you seriously believe there will be foreign intervention,if you do you must have forgotten the 30 years of misery all communities went through.If there were no foreign direct intervention then(which we know that indirect were the game of the West & India then)do you think this day and age it is possible?.Best way for Tamils to prosper in United Sri Lanka and beyond, is to rid of The Rogue Racist Tamil politicians and the tamils who jumped ship to save their skin and seek better pasture,promoting Prabhakaran to keep this brutal war going so they can enjoy benefits in their foreign land, should to stay away from Sri Lanka and let the local tamils elect genuine Leaders

    • 1
      4

      Ajith
      If TNA is serious about a ‘solution’ they must carry out an intensive campaign among the Tamils ( all Tamil speaking people scattered across the country irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) presently living outside North East to go back and settle in their ancestral areas. ( Sampanthan wants to live his remaining days in Colombo) The day I will feel ashamed as a Sinhalese is the day my Tamil brothern show any slightest tendency to move out and resettle in NE.

      Soma

  • 15
    3

    M.A.S has now become the whipping horse even after the Armed revolt could not deliver!
    The fact that he is being singled out mostly by those non LTTE groups,who in any event threw in the Towel after the Indo-Srilankan accord of 1989 gives credence to the fact that they need a scape-goat,and a whipping horse to boot.
    Is this the Price to pay for being brutally frank!

    • 7
      4

      What do you mean by brutally frank. An honest person is frank about everything and not some. Has Sumanthiran ever stated that Sri Lanka armed forces committed atrocities against Tamils. In the interview he says that he is a civil lawyer and therefore did not appear for for Tamils charged for terrorism. But he says that he appeared for JVP suspects. Recently he was ready to appear for the brother of Rishard Badiudeen who is charged for fraud and supporting terrorism. It is the opposition of members of TNA that prevented him from appearing. Were the cases against JVP and Badiudeen criminal or civil. This proves that Sumanthiran is a liar. Probably Tamil youths falsely accused did not have big money to give him. When Thavarasa an honourable and brave lawyer is appearing for them, mostly free of charge, what had prevented Sumanthiran. For your information Indo-Lanka accord of 1987 is still the best that has given some rights including language. If not for Prabaharan who fought selfish and foolish war ignoring the wish of Tamil civil society members, plight of Tamils would be different. I was in Colombo during 1987 to 1990 when IPKF was in the country, when Sinhalese were frightened to harm Tamils as they feared, IPKF will come to the south. That was the period Tamils gained some respect. So do not blame those who accepted the accord, which was the correct decision.

      • 3
        1

        The Sinhalese, sadly, did not know that the IPKF was there to kill Tamils who defy them. The Tamils too were ignorant of it, until it started in earnest.

        • 1
          0

          SJ,
          IPKF was there not only to kill Tamils who defy them but to rape Tamil women as well. Have you counted how many Tamil women were raped by IPKF?
          Demalu who make big noise about war crimes that Sri Lankan Armed Forces did not commit are dead silent on war crimes committed by IPKF because Demalu know what kind of response they will get from India.

          “IPKF was there to kill Tamils who defy them.”

          • 2
            0

            EE
            I do not think that the IPKF would have raped as much as the SL armed forces because its stay was shorter and conduct was subject to some external scrutiny.
            The IPKF was resented by most Tamils by 1989. Except for the few parties and personalities that were bonded to India, the rest were openly and harshly critical.
            You seem to be generalizing based on positions of specific parties long after the event.
            Successive SL governments failed to capitalize on Tamil resentment of the IPKF. When war was escalated by CBK and later MR, Tamils felt that the SL armed forces are worse.
            MR had a golden opporunity after the LTTE was defeated, and he squandered it.
            *
            What I constantly tell Tamil extremists will apply to you equally: Try looking at problems from the other person’s point of view, even if you do not agree with it.

  • 6
    3

    I think Dr S. I. Keethaponcalan is a political scientist and as such we expect some science based approach.i make my comments with this perspective in mind.
    By 1970 Federal Party had come to a dead end and they have to explore alternatives.
    The alternative was separatism and violence as the strategy and by 2009 this dream was shattered and the Tamil nationalists faced another dead end.
    Again the Tamil nationalists went back and resurrected Federalism and non violence as a face saving device.
    Every Tamil nationalist politician or political group made this historic betrayal and shamelessly celebrated LTTE events as a concession to hoodwink LTTE supporters.
    Now let us look back and try to make sense of what went wrong and why it went wrong before the first about turn.
    Bandaranaike- Chelvanayakm pact entered with a Leader of a Political Party without any regard to the then opposition.
    The pact could not take off and SWRD was forced to go back on his written commitment.
    It is not because Bandarannaike was not an honorable man but because he had no alternative and the circumstances forced him to so.
    The Theravada Sinhala Buddhism is more powerful than an elected prime Minister.

    • 4
      1

      Sri
      If the FP was sincere about separation one can have some respect for the FP.
      It was an election ploy that worked to secure a short term gain, but proved to be a disaster.
      The FP was never capable of planning anything with far sight. Vanniyasingam was a man with some vision and wisdom, but died too early so that little gang increasingly took control of things, taking advantage of SJVC’s advancing Parkinson’s.
      NR Rajavarothiam expressed his resentment of this gang in his Panagoda Days written in detention in 1961.

      • 2
        0

        SJ
        Exactly.

        They never had plan,well defined objective,strategy or tactics.

        They did things at the spur of the moment, haphazardly.

        The result is the present plight by the Tamils

    • 7
      2

      “By 1970 Federal Party had come to a dead end and they have to explore alternatives. The alternative was separatism ans violence as the strategy ….”. This is not correct. If not for the youths, Federal Party would have continued their inactivity. In 1972 when new constitution was made, they walked out as government refused to accommodate Tamil rights, but thereafter did nothing. It was the youths who forced them to toe their line. By 1973, frustration of Tamil youths was mounting being shut out of higher education by discriminatory practice. This together with discriminatory legislation being forced on the community by way of new constitution made them active. In 1973 Tamil Ilaignar Peravai was formed in Jaffna. At the same time General Union of Ealam Students (GUES) was formed in London. This was the beginning of militant movements and Federal Party had no hand in it, rather than subsequently jumping into it in an opportunistic manner. Tamil armed movement lost because they did not receive support form a single powerful country and due to selfish and foolish acts of Prabaharan. Tamil politicians of whichever party are helpless and will continue to hoodwink Tamil voters. Whether they co-operate with or work against government, they will get nothing. Federal demand in peaceful manner has received sympathy from the world, from which Sinhalese are attempting to wriggle out.

      • 3
        0

        Dr Gnana Sankaralingam

        Thanks for accepting my thesis that the FP had come to a dead end in 1970 and thereafter it was the youth who led the community followed shamelessly by the leaders.
        This continued up to 2009, then there was a sudden awakening or reawakening and reborn as TNA and continued with their traditional barren discredited slogans.
        Yes Slogans, not polices

  • 5
    0

    Keetha, lets accept the facts. Seventy years have passed by and things have now got from bad ,worse to UGLY. We only had family dynasties ,from the time of independence, who all had one common ground, called race/religious project.(there was not even a chance for any different thinking) . That is to divide people and keep the animosity going between communities , a legacy left by the colonial rule who we love to blame for all our problems. The only difference was ,each family tried outdoing the other and end result is the divide between communities become deeper and irreversible. Amidst Tamil parties had to look for their own survival and try bargaining for some rights with no success. The best example will be the Muslims who are supposedly played all their cards smartly have still end up in the same situation if not worse. Obviously such governance will create disgruntled rebels who lose faith in democratic process and decided to take it on them self. The Sinhalese and Tamils have had their share with severe consequences and soon Muslims too will be pushed into such situation. There is no way we can explain thirty years of war two insurgencies and Easter , by blaming on some minority party or their leaders. Of course Tamils as community were never united, even for their own well being , which will take another lengthy comment.

  • 5
    0

    My point is given the governance we had up to now, I really do not think any Tamil / minority party or their leaders would have made any significant difference .Sinhala community too had militant uprising. The Muslims too are now harassed and marked as next target. It is not Tamils alone except they had such protracted war. It is the government which had RACE/RELIGIOUS PROJECTS. For which militants came up with their “arms project. (after loosing all faith in vote projects). We just went from bad, worse to now UGLY. (with no respite what so ever).

  • 9
    5

    Keethaponcalan is an armchair critic. He is living in a fool’s paradise ignorant of ground reality. Living in the USA he has only an academic interest in Tamil affairs.
    It is not Sumanthiran, but Poncalan who has written half-truths.
    It has now become a fashion to criticise MA Sumanthiran to gain some sort of publicity. Such nincompoops are writing open letters and burning his effigies. They are first-rate cowards. LTTE supporters are criticising him because Sumanthiran has become a formidable force in Tamil politics. Being a human rights lawyer he is looking at both sides. He is easily the face of the Tamils both inside and outside parliament.
    His opinion is sought after countries like the US. Canada, India just to mention a few. He is a moderate who thinks differently and pragmatically. He is not saying one thing in the North and another in the South.
    As TNA leader Sampanthan in his press release stated: “Sumanthiran has been frank and forthright in his answers to questions that have been asked with the deliberate purpose of promoting mischief and disunity amongst the people of this country.”
    Sumanthiran has no hatred against the Sinhalese people. He is not a rabble arouser like ex-chief minister Wigneswaran. He believes in co-existence between the Sinhalese and Tamils in an undivided and united Ceylon with power-sharing at the peripheral.
    Sumanthiran in his interview was emphatic the solution to the national question should be under a federal system of government. He also made it clear to the interviewer that federalism is not a division of the country and cited the USA, Australia and several European countries as examples.

  • 9
    2

    Poncalan makes the ludicrous claim that “…..candidate Sajith Premadasa also rejected it. Yet, the TNA went ahead and endorsed Premadasa, again without any preconditions.” This is total rubbish. Sajith’ s manifesto at least partially addressed some of the political aspirations of the Tamils and gives some concrete proposals, unlike Gotabaya’ s manifesto which sidesteps the Tamils’ political aspirations and promises economic uplift which, Gotabaya maintains is the best guarantor of communal harmony and peace.
    Here are excerpts from Sajith Premadasa’s presidential election manifesto released before the election.
    a) Maximum devolution of power within an undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka will be implemented. Devolution of power will be implemented. Devolution of power will become meaningful, efficient and waste will be reduced. Devolution of power will ensure that we create true unity among all Sri Lankans not only in law and practice but also in our hearts.
    b) There will be a second chamber, the senate, consisting of representatives of all provincial councils to ensure power-sharing at the centre and to ensure the centre and the provinces are able to exercise their respective powers on the basis of their competences. The provinces will have the necessary powers to muster required finances and exercise the devolved powers.

  • 8
    2

    c) In regard to units of devolution, we will make power-sharing more meaningful and cost-efficient. Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa was never an option for Tamils, due to his past record. He openly declared that he will win the election on Sinhala – Buddhist votes alone, meaning he did not depend on Tamil votes. He went further and urged the powerful Buddhist clergy to enter into a debate with the ruling party candidate over his plans for power devolution. He claimed Premadasa’s manifesto seeks to dilute the unitary character of the state. In a letter addressed to Rajapaksa, in response to his criticism, Premadasa said that his definition of “undivided, indivisible Sri Lanka” can be interpreted as a united country. TNA’s decision to back Sajith Premadasa was endorsed overwhelmingly by the Tamil Voters in the North and East. In the Jaffna electoral district, Sajith Premadasa polled 312,722 votes (83.86%) as compared to a paltry 23,261 votes (6.24%) by Gotabaya. In Vanni, Sajith got 82.12%. In Batticaloa, a Tamil dominated electorate the per cent was 82.12%. In Trincomalee 72.10%. My question to Poncalan – Do you seriously think the Tamil voters are fools? They did not make an informed choice? That they can be led by the nose like a herd of cattle? History shows the Tamil voters have voted for the right candidates and parties at all three levels of the government. In the 2010 and 2015 parliamentary elections those candidates like Selvarasa Gajendran, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Pathmini Sithamparanathan who identified themselves as close to the LTTE were soundly beaten losing deposits.

    • 2
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      Tamils decided to vote for Sajith Premadasa on the basis of lesser evil and not because they believed that he is going to do wonders. There is no doubt that his stand was better than Gotabhaya Rajapakse regarding devolution, but whether he will remain committed to it when in power under the barrage of Sinhala Buddhist supremacists is to be seen. Just by saying maximum devolution is not enough without specifying them, when Sinhalese are not willing to grant full police or land powers to Tamils, as it will put an end to their plan of altering demographic pattern. Importantly he is silent about unit of devolution which means that not beyond current provincial boundaries. Tamils voted in large numbers in 1994 for Chandrika and in 2015 for Sirisena and got nothing in return. History will repeat itself for Tamils.

  • 5
    0

    The writer could have commented on Sumenthiran’s interview itself, instead had gone on to the alternative. Did Sumanthiran provide a proper and truthful response the interviewer? Writer could have commented for elucidation.

    Sumanthiran is a very intelligent civil litigation lawyer must write something affirmatively on his line thinking and how it relates to reconciliation between Sinhalese and Tamils, and for resolution of the national question in a country where votes are essentially split along ethnic lines from the time of independence.

    • 2
      2

      FMO
      “…in a country where votes are essentially split along ethnic lines from the time of independence.”
      Not quite then. The Left had a fair base among all communities even in the 1960s.
      Communal politics came to the fore in stages.

  • 1
    3

    Every body has the right to give their opinion.but some of these guys like ponniankalan,and kumarguruparan its looks like were waiting for a chance to show that they are still active and wants to show that they are more well versed in srilanaka politics.AT THE END THEY ARE LIKE-I ALSO RAN.

  • 0
    0

    This is the second part of of original comment- appearing above addressedto Dr Geethapongalan.
    ,
    The Theravada Sinhala Buddhism is more powerful than an elected prime Minister. This was repeated again when Mr Chevanayakam signed an agreement with Dudely Senanaike
    Lesson learnt:-Theravada Sinhala Buddhism is more powerful than the constitution or any President or. Prime Minister..
    The Tamil nationalists were again given another opportunity to test this hypothesis.
    This came in the year 2015.when a government was formed with the two main parties UNP and SLFP forming a grand coalition.
    The TNA due to earlier bad experiences did not enter into any agreements but supported the government fully.
    The , pasing of 19th amendment with far reaching changes to the 1978 constitution had vindicated the TNA stand and given hope to TNA that a new constitution with a political solution is possible with the support.
    The 225 member Parliament almost unanimously passed the 19 Amendment. There was an unwritten agreement with Maithripala Sirisena and Rani Wicramasinghe and TNA .
    TNA expected all other Tamil issues will be sorted out once a new constitution is formulated and it is not necessary to go behind the government for small problems.
    But unfortunately for the Tamil nationalists History repeated again and Theravada Sinhala Buddhists had outsmarted all experts and proved their supremacy beyond any doubt.

  • 0
    3

    The whole subject is an utter wastage of time.
    .
    So much blood and water has flowed under Mahaweli bridge for the last 70 years.
    .
    Have you ever wondered why after all these promises, negotiations, bargains, sit-ins wars , terror tactics, Indian involvements, foreign support etc. etc. we are at the starting point?
    .
    Let alone a solution,why no one so far has at least presented a concept of a practical solution which encompasses at least 90% of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) scattered across the island for discussion?
    The reason:
    IN VIEW OF THE EXISTING DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF ETHNICITIES WITHIN THE ISLAND OF SRI LANKA THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE SOLUTION TO THE TAMIL PROBLEM.

    Soma

    • 2
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      Haven’t you heard of the call for a Federal solution. The arrangement is a practical solution for 100% of all the people. Are you deaf Soma!

      • 0
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        N
        Would this federalism recognize Muslims and Hill Country Tamils as distinct nationalities?
        If so, what will the federal structure that would assure them of their rights?

        • 1
          0

          SJ, Federalism caters for no nationalism. (Playing smart all the time gets you nowhere!)

          • 0
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            N
            Thanks for letting me know that I will not get anywhere with you with any serious question.
            *
            I will play dumb and ask you:
            What is a federal solution supposed to address if not national aspirations?
            (If you do not have an answer you may pass the question to any Tamil nationalist of your choice.)

      • 0
        0

        My dear Nathan
        Federal solution??
        Can you briefly state (just briefly) those ‘Tamil political aspirations’ you guys are fighting for the last 70 years and how are they satisfied for the Tamils (all Tamil speaking people scattered across the island irrespective of their religion, caste or the date of arrival) living in Sinhala majority Federal units.
        .
        I repeat:
        no one so far has at least presented a concept of a practical solution which encompasses at least 90% of Tamils for discussion.

        Soma

    • 1
      1

      somass

      “…………..THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE SOLUTION TO THE TAMIL PROBLEM.”

      You very well know it’s not a THE TAMIL PROBLEM but a Sinhala/Buddhist problem imposed on rest of the people.

      There is a a solution, try liberate the Buddhists from Sinhala/Buddhists and Buddhism from Sinhala/Buddhism.

      And deport yourself to Christopher Shavendra Columbus Silva discovered island near Killinochchi.

      Take care

      • 0
        0

        My dear Native
        Soma’s character doesn’t alter the reality. The fact of the matter is :

        IN VIEW OF THE EXISTING DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF ETHNICITIES WITHIN THE ISLAND OF SRI LANKA THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE SOLUTION TO THE TAMIL PROBLEM.


        Soma

  • 3
    4

    “Maximum devolution of power within an undivided, indivisible and unitary Sri Lanka”
    is a clever invention of our politicians. It is similar to their other invention:
    Maximum price for the farmers for their paddy and minimum price for the rice for the consumer.

    Soma

    • 0
      0

      S
      “Maximum price for the farmers for their paddy and minimum price for the rice for the consumer.”
      As long as maximum is not through the roof and minimum is almost as good as free, it is feasible.
      Try the adjective ‘reasonable’ after the words ‘maximum’ and ‘minimum’.

    • 1
      0

      somass

      Why are you sad and repressed all the time?
      Did you or do you have a sadist father?
      May be you never had a good active happy intimate private life. You know what I mean!!!
      Have you ever been abused as a child, young adult, man(?), old man, ….?
      Do you feel guilty of …… lly abusing, children, young adults, man, ….. ?
      You are so depressing you are making a lot of people gloomy, tired, …..and very sad, it is almost like an infection.

      Take care.

      • 0
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        Native
        Now wash your hands thoroughly.
        Excessive ************ is bad for mental health.
        CT cannot afford to lose you.

        Soma

  • 3
    0

    The crux of the matter is Sinhala people are happy to lose their rights and live under a dictator rather than sharing equal rights with Tamils.

    • 1
      1

      Rajash,
      Sinhalayo are not going to lose their rights under a dictator like President Gotabhaya Rajapakshe. Probably, racist, separatist Vella Ala Demala politicians might lose the ‘wal booru nidahasa’ they enjoyed to play hell in this country since Independence.

      What rights that Sinhalayo enjoy that they should share with Tamils?
      In fact, ‘Para’ Demalu are denying the right for Sinhalayo to buy land, live and do business in the North while Demalu can buy property and do business in any place in Sri Lanka. Racist Big Nesh Waram who is a descendant of a Dravida slave told ‘Sinhalayo are not welcome in the North’. After all, this is the Land of Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo’. Demalu live in this country because Sinhalayo gave citizenship to Dravida slaves brought by colonial parasites from Dravida Nadu.

      • 1
        0

        EE
        “…this is the Land of Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo”
        *
        Kindly tell us who the “Native Sinhalayo” are.
        What rights do the Vedda Eththo have over their land and livelihood since encroachment in the name of development?

      • 1
        1

        Eagle Eye – “What rights that Sinhalayo enjoy that they should share with Tamils?”

        exactly. my point

        wait till you lose what ever little rights you have
        …the Sinhalayo will come running to the Tamils to save them yet again!

      • 2
        1

        EE@

        What rights that SINHALAYO enjoy that they should share with Tamils `-

        No need to beat around the bush, just the way you behave, ONLY focusing on SINHALAYO… is no possible for the tamils. — is that to be overlooked ?

        Alone we the SINHALAYA to feel that supremacists should go out of our heads. I dont belong to your category, even if I have shared it for all sinhalayo. I have always added my thought as ” srilanken”, so that is no valid to me.

    • 0
      0

      R
      Is not the attitude of Tamils seeking foreign intervention rather similar?

  • 4
    1

    Keethaponcalan

    *** Last week I had to take issue with Sampanthan when he came to the defence of Sumanthiran after he gave an interview to a Sinhala program .
    In this interview, Sumanthiran made several controversial comments, some of which could amount to half truths.
    *** It was not half truths but a total betrayal. What Prabakaran stood for was Tamil Freedom from Sinhalese tyranny for 72 years but Sadly Prabakaran had his faults otherwise we could have got Federalism.
    Sumanthiran together with Sampanthan are prisoners of their own personal circumstances with houses in Colombo 7. They have their own comfort and luxury to look after. Sumantiran likes MR and during one of his visits to the House of Horrors ( Temple Trees) with his Children MR asked his children have you been to Jaffna and Sumanthis answer was NO it is not safe for them. That tells you something about Sumanthis attachment to a region that he represents.
    In that respect at least “Wiggy” has my respect as he has chosen to live in Jaffna.
    COVID 19 has found Gotha and Sinhala Brutality out. End is NIGH

  • 2
    1

    Non Violence did not work for Tamils, Armed struggle did not work for Tamils, propping up Srimavo, Dudley, JR to form government did not work for Tamils.

    Douglas and Ramanathan Anjagan are also living in Luxury ….with armed guards

    so what else can Sumanthiran and Sampanthan do or for that matter Viggy do….other than going along with the Sinhala leaders and keeping knocking on the IC door

  • 3
    1

    Sumanthiran has his rights to reject an armed struggle , like Gandhi’s ahimsa policy. But what he failed mention in the interview was that armed struggle started after all peaceful options failed. Infact the satyagraha at galle face was met with violence by the Banda’s goons. Amirtalingam & others has their heads broken up. There was no LTTE when riots took place in 1958. And in 1977 & 1981 the LTTE had less than 20 cadres. The state sponsored pogrom of 1983 only swelled the armed movements. Of-course the struggle failed because of LTTE’s failure to adopt to a viable political alternative during peace initiatives. In a country where history is distorted to prove that Sinhalese came first etc., ignorance is bliss. Wounds would have healed, had Rajapakses were magnanimous in offering a solution to the ethnic issue after the defeat of LTTE. Alas it’s too much to expect from corrupted politicians, who doesn’t know what is statesmanship.
    NV Jenn.

  • 3
    1

    I surmised Keethaponcalan is a visionary living in comfort in the USA, a wealthy and prosperous country, writing about Tamil affairs in his leisure time. He enjoys all the comforts the US can offer, yet he is accusing Sampanthan and Sumanthiran of living in luxury houses in Colombo 7 as though he himself is living in abject poverty. I expected him to mind his language because of his education and intellectual achievements. Now I find he is a cynic, a pervert and a barefaced liar! Obviously, he has allowed his imagination to run riot.

    He claims “Sumanthiran together with Sampanthan are prisoners of their own personal circumstances with houses in Colombo 7. They have their own comfort and luxury to look after. “This is nothing short of vicious Goebbelsian propaganda throwing mud at both Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. Keethaponcalan is throwing stones from his glass house forgetting the fact that both Sampanthan and Sumanthiran are living among their people while he himself had bolted the country of birth seeking greener pastures abroad.
    Sampanthan has no house in Colombo leave alone in Colombo 7. As an MP and as the leader of the opposition he was in occupation of Summit Flats 2D, Keppitipola Road, Colombo 5. He was given a bungalow almost two years after his appointment as Leader of the Opposition. In a speech in Parliament Sampanthan said “I had to climb and descend 60-70 steps every time I entered or left the flat. This was very inconvenient and difficult, but I put up with it.”

    In fact, Keethaponcalan is in good company with Sinhalese chauvinists who questioned the decision of the government to allow Sampanthan to continue to live in his bungalow after he lost his post.

    • 2
      2

      You are questioning the decency of the writer, but you do not have the courage to write in your own name when you are attacking him in an indecent manner. It is common courtesy that comment made by a person openly has to be met in a similar manner. Could you please display your decency by identifying yourself openly.

    • 0
      0

      Mr. Velupillai Thangavelu aka Nakkeran,

      I didn’t see any reference to their houses by the writer. It seems you have mixed up Kali’s comments above with that of the author. Kali probably got her facts wrong.

      You should acknowledge that you mistook what she said as coming from the author. Also, you don’t have to resort to personal attacks against him; you can just rebut his claims rationally and leave it at it.

  • 1
    0

    In an editorial The Island, flag-ship of Sinhala –Buddhist chauvinism, wrote “The rest of Sampanthan’s statement is pure fabrication and spin.
    “Firstly, the man who did not want to rent a bungalow due to “exorbitant cost” had no shame in having Rs 35 million spent on renovations on the facility eventually assigned to him. Rented accommodation would not have cost the State such a staggering sum of money by the time he relinquished his position in December 2018. Therefore, he may not have rented out a house in early 2015, not for altruistic reasons, but because he had other plans.” (http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=217759)
    But what indeed is the truth? Sampanthan did not ask the government to spend Rs.35 million to renovate the bungalow. This house was previously occupied by the former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake till he passed away on 26 December 2016. It is a routine practice for the government to renovate official residences once at least in 10 years. But the Island insinuates the renovation was done at Sampanthan’s request. As for Sumanthiran, he lives in a modest house not in Colombo 7 but at 3/1 Daya Road, Colpetty, Colombo

  • 1
    0

    Thanga, EXCELLENT. You definitely made your case with enough and more supporting facts. I admire as well learn a few things from your comments. You have uncanny way of making your point by compiling all the facts and presenting in a orderly manner.

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